Posts Tagged “amanda berry”

Psychic VisionsI’ve blogged a couple times about the late fraudulent “psychic” Sylvia Browne. Five years ago Skeptical Inquirer surveyed many of her predictions and pronouncements; of those for which the results were known, not a single fucking one of them proved true. A couple years ago she was proven dead wrong about an additional one.

It’s that last story I’m blogging about now.

It involves the Cleveland abductions, which were revealed 2 years ago this month (WebCite cached article). Back in 2004, about a year and a half after her abduction, Amanda Berry (in captivity) watched her mother appear on The Montel Williams Show with Ms Browne (cached). The liar told Louwana Miller — with certainty she couldn’t have had, especially since it wasn’t true — that her missing daughter was dead. A couple years after that, the broken-hearted mother — convinced that Browne was correct — died in despair, essentially mourning a daughter who — it turned out — wasn’t dead (cached).

Now that Berry released a memoir, we know the heartarche Browne’s lie also caused her (cached).

Even people who are smart enough to know “psychics” are full of shit, often dismiss them by saying, “What’s the harm?” So what if people want to think Sylvia Browne’s bullshit was truthful? They want to think so … so let them, this reasoning goes. But here, I’m afraid, is one example of precisely where the “harm” is visible: In lives ruined by “psychics'” lies. A truly cold-hearted person might say, “If people choose to be gullible then let them live with the consequences.” In that case, Louwana Miller would be responsible for her own broken spirit and, perhaps, death. But Browne’s bullshit, and Miller’s death, caused Ms Berry anguish she never actually signed up for. Browne’s bullshit compounded her already-horrific ordeal … and it did so unnecessarily.

I note that Montel Williams apologized, but he did so on Facebook (cached) with a classic non-apology apology: He’s sorry his show caused pain. That’s all. He’s not sorry he repeatedly put a fraud on television; he’s not sorry he’s the reason Browne was able to break Berry’s mother’s heart with her lies; he’s not sorry he gave credibility to a liar.

In case it wasn’t already evident, the time has come for the mass media to break free from psychics’ bullshit and lies. Stop being complicit in their schemes. Stop airing them. Stop giving them credence. Stop reporting on them. Stop showing them as though they actually have magical powers — because they don’t, and they never will. Show them only in exposés that reveal them as the frauds they are.

“Psychics'” bullshit quite simply needs to stop. A mass media moratorium on “psychics,” mediums, “seers,” etc. is needed — now. Immediately, if not sooner. We can’t wait any longer.

Oh, and if viewers/listeners/readers don’t like it? Well, fuck them. Give them no choice but to go cold turkey.

Photo credit: MTSOfan, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Comments Comments Off on Destroyed Lives: A Psychic’s Legacy

Wrong Again! Three women and their families couldn't be happier! / PsiCop modification of original picture from Skeptic North (URL: http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/01/2009-psychic-predictions-part-2-sylvia-browne/)The discovery of three kidnap victims in Cleveland, who’d been missing for 10 years or more, has made national news (WebCite cached article). This is fantastic news, although famed psychic Sylvia Browne … who’s claimed an accuracy rate of 87-90 percent … probably isn’t too happy about it. You see, as ABC News reports, back in 2004 she’d pronounced Amanda Berry dead, right to her mother’s face, on The Montel Williams Show (cached):

A year after Amanda Berry disappeared in Cleveland, her mother appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” to speak to a psychic about what happened to her daughter.

Psychic Sylvia Browne, who has made a career of televised psychic readings, told Louwanna Miller on a 2004 episode of the show that her daughter was dead, causing Miller to break down in tears on the show’s set.

“She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told Miller on the show, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

Sadly, Miller died believing Browne’s declaration just a little while later:

Miller told the newspaper that she believed “98 percent” in what Browne told her. Miller died a year later from heart failure.

Predictably, Browne is now avoiding accountability for her failed declaration:

Browne did not return phone calls seeking comment today by ABC News. The Montel Williams show, through syndicator CBS, also did not return calls for comment. The show no longer airs new episodes.

Here’s ABC News’ video report on Browne’s catastrophically erroneous declaration:

That Browne was wrong … again … isn’t news to those capable of reviewing her vaunted accuracy. As I blogged some time ago, her accuracy rate is a big, fat, fucking goose-egg. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zip. Not one of her predictions that could be verified, proved true. Not a single one.

The ABC News article goes on to chronicle other noted examples of Browne having been demonstrably wrong, and further, elaborates on how “psychics” prey on people who have missing relatives, and that their “tips” are unhelpful. I find this amazing, because the mass media typically are complicit with fraudsters like Sylvia. It’s rare for them to be so candid in calling out psychics, their lies, and other assorted games. It’s something that just doesn’t happen.

Photo credit: PsiCop modification of original on Skeptic North.

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